Dustin Byfuglien: Geek of the Week

by Terry Campkin on August 31, 2014


Geek of the Week returns with a treatise on Dustin Byfuglien and positional eligibility

After a summer hiatus, Geek of the Week is back and primed for the upcoming season. Preseason is only three weeks away and I am pumped to bring some analysis on key players who will help you win (or lose) at the draft table. Some big news came out recently on one player that will drastically affect his 2014 value and he is this season’s first Geek of the Week: Dustin Byfuglien.


One thing that I have noticed in my years of playing in Fantasy Hockey leagues is the divide between people who understand hockey and people who understand fantasy hockey. They are not one and the same and the key to being a successful fantasy hockey GM is to have a thorough understand both. Trust me, there are plenty of people out there who know more than me about hockey but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they could touch me in a Fantasy Hockey league. I would wager a decent sum of money that Mike Babcock (who is a great coach and hockey mind) wouldn’t be able to make the playoffs in a fantasy league with myself and some of the other strong GMs I play with. I’ll use Byfuglien to explain why.


Over the course of the summer a seemingly small thing happened with Big Buff: he was given D eligibility in Yahoo! leagues. By now, most of us know that the plan is for Byfuglien to play the wing in Winnipeg and Dobber’s point predictions in the guide are based on this fact. Yahoo! adding D eligibility has absolutely 0 impact on what his actual production will be. I know this, you know this, Mike Babcock knows this. What Babcock may not know though, is that the implications of Big Buff’s D eligibility in fantasy hockey are absolutely HUGE:


To understand just how big the D designation is for Buff, I ran the numbers for my keeper league (Widowmakers Fantasy Hockey League) in Fantasy Hockey Geek to see how Byfuglien stacks up.


12 team Yahoo! league measuring G, A, +/-, PPP, SOG, Hits, SHP using Dobber’s projections for the upcoming season


RankPlayerPositionFHG ValueGA+/-SOGPPPSHPHits
12 Dustin Byfuglien D 98 19 34 -12 249 21 0 205


You can see from the output above that Dustin Byfuglien is projected to be the 12th most valuable player in the WFHL and he’s the 9th most valuable skater. He has been a top 15 fantasy own in our format for years. He provides elite output from the D position in many categories, particularly shots, hits and goals. You simply cannot find another defenceman out there who will break 50 points while firing 240+ shots and 200+ hits. You know what you can find though? A RW who does all that.


So what if Byfuglien hadn’t been given his D designation in Yahoo!? What would his value be then? Intuitively, I think we all would know that his value would decline but figuring out how much is next to impossible. Luckily, we have access to the what-if tool on Fantasy Hockey Geek, which allows you to change a player’s output or position to see how it would affect their value. Look what happens to Buff’s value when the only change I make is to his position:


RankPlayerPositionFHG ValueGA+/-SOGPPPSHPHits
12 Dustin Byfuglien D 98 19 34 -12 249 21 0 205
60 Byfuglien- what if? RW 55 19 34 -12 249 21 0 205


I didn’t change a single number of Byfuglien’s because I know that the projections are already based on him playing RW. The only change I made was to change his eligibility from D to a RW and he dropped all the way down to the 60th most valuable player! We knew before Yahoo! opened that Byfuglien would be playing wing and we projected his points based on that. The ONLY thing that has changed is that Yahoo! gave him D-eligibility and his value increased by almost 50 spots!


So now that we understand what Big Buff’s D eligibility does for him, what do we do about it?


In one year leagues, the answer is simple: DRAFT HIM. His current ADP (average draft position) is 93.7 which is an absolute joke. In almost any league format Byfuglien’s value will far exceed that draft position and if your league resembles something similar to mine above then getting Byfuglien in the 90s is larceny. I would draft him in the 4th or 5th round, take the 1st round value and be laughing.


If you are in a keeper/dynasty league then your situation is a little more interesting. If you own him, then you need to hang tight with Byfuglien for a couple months and see if remains on the wing for the Jets. If it looks like this is going to be his long term position then you need to consider selling high on Byfuglien while he still has that precious D eligibility. I don’t have to tell you that selling a 53 point D is much easier than selling a 53 point W. A great target would be Shea Weber if you could pry him from his current owner. Weber is a rare defenseman with similar output to that of Byfuglien and you know he isn’t moving to the wing anytime soon. If Weber can’t be had, you should consider a lesser D such as Dion Phaneuf and get a little something extra in the package. FHG calculates Dion as the 24th most valuable player in my league based on his high end hits and shots. He is definitely a drop off from D-eligible Buff but he is a big improvement on RW-eligible Buff. If you are challenging for a championship this year, downgrading to Dion may not be the way to go but if you aren’t making the podium in 2014-15 then you should strongly consider it.

The other option would be to just risk it and hang onto Byfuglien and enjoy the elite output in your D-slot. I mean, Brent Burns still has his D eligibility so there is no telling if/when Yahoo! is going to change. The risk is there though so if you can move Byfuglien now as a top 5 D and get fair value in return, I would do it before he becomes Shane Doan.


Dustin Byfuglien is a great example of why being an elite fantasy hockey GM requires more than just good hockey knowledge. Dobber, Campkin or Babcock could all peg Byfuglien for a point output in the mid-50s in the coming season but I would guess that only 2 of those 3 people understand that the most important number beside Byfuglien’s name isn’t even a number at all – it’s the letter “D”. To further understand nuances like this and the impact to a players’ value in fantasy hockey tools like the what-if analysis on Fantasy Hockey Geek are invaluable. Take your game to the next level and open an account that is custom designed to your own league.


The What-If tool is part of the Fantasy Hockey Geek Season Toolkit. Bundle that with the Draft Kit and receive a 30% discount the regular price of the Season Toolkit. Bundle them both with Dobber’s guide and receive a nearly 40% off the combined price.